Only so many photos will load easily at once, so I saved some of my favorites from the Joslyn for a second post. I’ve looked at Gustave Dore’s engravings for years, but I had only seen one or two oil paintings by him. This landscape blew me away. I took a couple of closer up shots as well as the overall. I’m a sucker for a twilight/stars scene, and the teal stripe of water beguiled me, as did the texture in the sky. If I could have taken one piece home to live with daily, this would have been it, even though there were likely some objectively “finer” pieces there. I adore it.
I also fell for this urban landscape by John Sloan, one of the founders of the Ashcan school. I’m late learning about them, but every piece I see, I like it more. They painted urban landscapes in the early 20th century, and I’m definitely a city girl. I kept coming back to look at this one as well.
Finally this El Greco blew me away. He was a painter so ahead of his time. Like Van Gogh and Walter Anderson and Georgia O’Keefe, he saw the world around him in a distinctive, visionary style, and his paintings could be no one else’s. There are only a handful of painters who have completely created a new visual vocabulary. Most great painters, even the masters, build strongly on those coming before. A handful manage to not start from scratch but get somewhere so unique that it feels as if they did. El Greco is one of those. You would think his paintings are 20th century, and he was 400 years ahead of that. This one is about 1582. It’s more muted than some of his, since the subject is the understated and ascetic St. Francis, but it contains that blaze of sky in the background, and the brushwork is loose and assured and only what he needs with not a jot more added. One of the true greats.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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